If You Do One Thing Differently in 2014, Let it be This

Have you set your blogging goals for 2014?

What do they look like?

Have you been taking notes to help you out? Did you read any life changing books, threw away your old list and vowed to start afresh?

Did you decide to do away with your list altogether to see where the year will take you?

Or are you still undecided.

Whichever side of the fence you are on, it is hard to start January without giving some thought to setting some goals for the New Year.

I have been doing some soul searching of my own. For a long time, actually.

And today I thought I’d share with you my plans for Writing Happiness in the year 2014.

I actually only have one main goal for this year.

But before I tell you what that is, let me tell you about my biggest a- ha moments for the year.

My A-ha moment:

You cannot compete with the leading blogs in your niche on the basis of educational content alone.

Let that sink in for a while.

You cannot compete with the leading blogs in your niche on the basis of educational content alone!

You want to be a successful blogger, right? You want to stand out, viewed as an authority and have a memorable brand. You want a decent sized audience. You want people to like and trust you.

Guess what, you cannot have all that if you just publish educational content.

If you publish how-to content, list posts, ‘mistakes to avoid’ type posts only.

If you teach others only.

This is the number one reason why most blogs will struggle to increase their readership.

Think about this for a second.

You want to learn about content creation and content marketing: You go to Copyblogger.

You want to read about social media: Social Media Examiner is the place you wanna be.

You want to master conversion and online marketing: Social Triggers is your final destination.

You want to learn about blogging: Problogger, Boost Blog Traffic, Think Traffic.

Grow your business/marketing? Seth Godin, Marie Forleo.

Unless you have unlimited hours in your day, you are likely to go to the experts in your field.

I do the same.

And yet, we go to these other blogs that are not huge and don’t teach all the time.

We actually go there for the blogger. We want to hear their thoughts. We want to know what they feel about certain issues.

Let’s say, you also want to start a blog where you want to advise people on using social media to grow their business, for example.

How are you going to stand out against heavy lifters like Social Media Examiner, Social Mouths and Social Media Today?

You do this by publishing other type of content on your blog, not purely educational one.

The opinionated one!

You publish your thoughts on important subjects in your niche. You want to be seen as a thought leader.

You let your personality shine through. You want people to like you – and remember you.

And most importantly, you want to get rid of vanilla presence – stand for something.

What to expect from Writing Happiness

In a recent survey I did with my email subscribers, the vast majority said that they want a mix of opinionated and educational content on Writing Happiness confirming what I have been thinking.

And this is what you can expect from me in 2014.

  • I will be focusing on teaching experts and solopreneurs (who teach) and teaching you how to sell more of your products, programs and services, with blogging.
  • If you are an expert, but you haven’t got anything for sale – yet, my goal is to help you do that ASAP.
  • I will be publishing a lot more personalized and opinionated content (after being here for a while, I have earned the right).
  • I will be sending my (email subscribers only) insights and personal a-ha moments. If you are interested, you need to sign up.
  • I did an internal launch of  my new Sell More With Blogging online program this year. I will do the main launch around September 2014.
  • I am also working on a brand new ebook!
  • I will be working on my brand – which is kind of ‘meh’ at the moment.

To give you an example, this is Marie Forleo’s brand:

Straightforward business advice
Extroverted – Marie TV
Personal development junkie
B School
Author of book Make Every Man Want You
Hip hop diva

My goal for 2014

My goal this year is to build a strong brand for Writing Happiness and publish a mix of personal and educational content.

So when somebody asks you, what is Marya all about? You don’t have to scratch your head mumbling … oh she writes about blogging, and online content creation … and … ????

2013 for me was about building authority. I did this by getting published on some of the biggest blogs in my niche, and will continue to do so.

And this is my number 1 goal this year:

To build a strong brand for Writing Happiness

What about you?

What is your brand? Can you define it? Could your audience define it?

Your brand is what others say about you when you are not in the room.

Without going into too much detail; here are some ideas to help you build your brand from day 1.

Basics & visuals

  • Spend some time on your title and tag line.
  • Choose your brand colours, fonts, logo and get yourself professional looking design. (Notice I didn’t say necessarily to buy one).
  • Be consistent with your choice of images.

Persona & voice

  • Decide some personal aspects that you would share with your readers. Try to be as relevant as you can. (I have chosen my obsession with business self-help books and the Internet, Pakistani food and perfumes to show that this content could only be created by me.)
  • Include past experiences to make your point.
  • Be deliberate with your writing style. Develop a specific lingo. Use some words or expressions that only you would use. (I have coined a term ‘guesting’ as in guest posting or guest blogging. Let’s see if it catches on.)

The bigger picture

  • Your core message: What you stand for. All of your content must be closely tied to this message.
  • Your mission: What do you want to accomplish. Think about publishing your manifesto. (Note to self: Write manifesto.)
  • Your tribe: Make profiles of your ideal readers. You can have more than one. These are who you are looking to attract. These are the people who will support your message and mission.

These are the ones who will strongly agree (mostly) or not (occasionally) with you, but still love you to pieces. These are the kind of people you want to make up your community.

And this is the kind of traffic you want to attract. The only kind that matters.

So there you have it. This is my goal for 2014.

Building a brand takes time. And it is an ongoing process.

But it doesn’t have to be that hard.

I will be building my brand alongside you. We will both be working together, You and I, both supporting each other.

What say you?

Have you taken my 3-minute Client Attraction Quiz? Check it out now, it’s awesome! :)


  1. Rohit Sharma Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Yes Marya, certainly it doesn’t have to be that hard if done with strategy, perseverance and patience.

    Thanks for sharing new insights on your blogging behavior! These are acting as a precious case study points for your readers!

    My best wishes 🙂

    • marya
      Posted on January 23, 2013 at 7:07 am

      That’s the whole plan, Rohit.

      I did all the authority building thing behind the curtains (which is by no means over), but I want to take my readers with me on a journey (forgive the cliche) to see if they can also apply the same insights to their own branding and build their platforms. To be taken seriously, I had to do this after.

      Thanks for your comment. Appreciated – as always. 🙂

  2. mark vernon Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Thought you might want to write about something that will be interesting in 2013…we are building a global membership and rewards system, part of which is a micropayment system for bloggers to earn credits that can be used within the system at anyone who wants to participate..it’s free..:-)
    please contact me if you want to discuss specifics.

    • marya
      Posted on January 23, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      Hey Mark,
      You made me curious so I checked out your page. No clue what you are about. Thanks for your comment though.

  3. Marsha Lia Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2013 at 10:50 am

    I just started this blog (January 1!) and I’m reading your advice with much interest 🙂 I have a lot to work on, in terms of building content and courting visitors. My website is helping me live my goal to reduce my carbon footprint this year by not buying anything made in China or other countries/states whose energy sources are dominated by coal. My personal goal is to align my own behavior with the change I want to see in the world, and then to inspire others to do the same. 🙂

    • marya
      Posted on January 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm

      Hi Marsha,
      You seem to have a very clear idea of your cause. That’s great. Most of the people (including myself) struggle with this first step. It often reveals itself later in the process.

      Hope you keep coimg back and share more of your thoughts with us. Cheers.

      • Linda Parriott
        Posted on January 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm

        I’d have added my URL to the comment form but alas, I’m still struggling with that first step. Thank you for your transparency that even people building authority stumble on this one. I’m following your journey with great interest. Thank you for this post today. Timely for me as I begin to begin my first step.

        • marya
          Posted on January 24, 2013 at 12:40 am

          Thanks for dropping by Linda. I am sure by publically taking on this challenge, I’ll be of more value to people, and this will help me stay on course as well. And yes, everyone struggles in the beginning, some a little more than others, but eventually we will get there if we do most things right. Cheers

  4. Richard J Lester Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Thank you for your 2012 content; look forward to your 2013 offerings.

    • marya
      Posted on January 23, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      Thanks Richard. Looking forward to hearing more from you.

  5. Julie Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    You are so right! There is so much out there from the experts, and all the sub bloggers are just retweeting, rephrasing the same stuff hubspot etc is blogging. So how can we be different, and your right, it’s our personalities. How would I personally help a business grow?
    Thanks for your OPINION on the subject, not just a rehash.

    • marya
      Posted on January 23, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      Hey Julie,
      Thanks for dropping by. Good to know that I am on the right track. Cheers.

  6. Sarah Russell Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    One of my biggest goals for 2013 is to help others. I know that violates most of the goal setting recommendations out there that say goals should be smart, measurable and so on, but I’ve made those types of resolutions before and they’ve never worked for me.

    So instead, I’m setting the idea of helping others in 2013 as an intention so that I’ll be more open to these possibilities whenever they occur. My site is still young, so I’m not sure exactly how these opportunities will manifest themselves, but I’m excited to find out what putting that goal over any others (including branding, authority building, etc) leads to throughout the year 🙂

    Thanks for sharing, and looking forward to all the great stuff you’ve got planned for 2013!

    • marya
      Posted on January 24, 2013 at 12:37 am

      Sarah, your primary motivation is to help others – that’s fantastic. That’s what keeps me going as well so good to know that we both operate from the same intrinsic drives.

      That being said, the more clear you are on exactly how you plan to help others, easier it would be for you to actually do it. All having all other elements in place will help you build a solid platform so don’t ignore them. But know that it will take some time to figure everything out, and when you are sure, you get excited about other possibilities. You continue to evolve and that’s the beauty of it.

      All the best.

  7. Linda Parriott Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Thank you for this post. It was exactly the message I needed today as I continue to stumble over taking that first step of getting clear. Your honest voice and transparency bring freshness to the stale repetition offered by cookie cutters.

    • marya
      Posted on January 24, 2013 at 12:41 am

      Thank you Linda. Sometimes it is hard to know what your audience will like – but they like honesty if nothing else. You just proved it to me. Thanks for the lovely comment. 🙂

  8. Flora M. Brown Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Hi Marya,

    First, congratulations on the strides you made toward building your authority in 2012. I witnessed it with pleasure.

    Second, thank you for your willingness to let us witness your brand emerge this year and encouraging us to do the same.

    I’ve been blogging for many years, but started in a new niche in the last year and a half. Before, although I use “color” as a metaphor in much of what I do, I think my blog is still too vanilla. Using the examples you gave, I’m getting clearer about what it means to be a thought leader, pushing forth my opinions in my own voice and personality.

    Using your tips (I’m already an email subscriber) I know I’ll reach my goals for my 2013 of speaking out on what I stand for,using personal experiences and finding my own lingo.

    Thankfully I’m currently polishing my manifesto and working on my brand colors, look, etc.

    I notice that you and a number of noted bloggers have gone with minimalist themes. It’s a refreshing and clean look.

    Looking forward to growing along with you.

    • marya
      Posted on January 24, 2013 at 12:48 am

      Hey Flora. Good to see you, as always! 🙂

      Thanks for the appreciation of my work and ‘coming out’ post. I think it is so much fun taking your readers along on a similar journey, don’t you? It keeps you motivated and keeps you going.

      I am a minimalist by nature (I didn’t know there was a whole concept to it). I hate clutter. I don’t like to keep things that have no value. I like to spend on experiences and not stuff. I feel owned by the stuff around me and I hate spending a lot of time on organizing and cleaning. This is why minimalist designs appeal to me naturally. Also they minimize distraction for the readers and help them focus on the content. That’s why a lot of ‘smart’ bloggers do it. 🙂

  9. lukas kasprzak Says :
    Posted on January 23, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Hey Marya,

    wish you luck with your 2013 goals! I’m sure you’ll be able to achieve them.

    It’s time to start my branding project too. And guest posting of course…

    • marya
      Posted on January 24, 2013 at 12:50 am

      Hi Lukas,

      Thanks and all the best to you too. Shoot me an email if there is anything in particular that I can help you with.


  10. Erica Moore Says :
    Posted on January 24, 2013 at 5:30 am

    Hello Marya,
    Your post gave me much to think about. I’m still in the beginning of the blog process and am enjoying the journey of marrying a love of writing to other passions. So true regarding building your personal voice into your brand.

    As a reader you’re on the right track. I want to learn about blogging for certain and find too that your goal to include Pakistani food and perfume content intriguing.

    Happy New Year!

    • marya
      Posted on January 30, 2013 at 2:59 am

      Hey Erica,

      I used to run a small perfume business so I am planning to include insights and lessons from that. Also my love of food is something that I can’t live without so hoping to make it s part of my brand as well.

      Happy New Year to you too. Cheers.


  11. Pamela Says :
    Posted on January 24, 2013 at 5:48 am

    It never fails… “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.
    Thank you for sharing your journey.
    I think you have given me the courage I need to put my voice out there,
    quirkiness and all.
    I’m allergic to vanilla :)… OK, not really, but I swear I’ve had the sensation
    of my skin crawling when I see all the me too sites out there.
    It’s like an online zombie apocolypse, with a never ending “fresh” eating
    stream of sameness being brought to life.
    Thank God I found the safe house! I look forward to seeing where
    your a-ha moment takes you!

    • marya
      Posted on January 30, 2013 at 3:01 am

      Hey Pamela.

      Firstly, sorry for the late reply. I have just moved house so things are all over the place – quite literally.

      I really enjoyed your comment. And this quote is an absolute favourite of mine. I swear by it. I am also a big fan of 3am epiphanies so keep watching this space.

      And welcome! 🙂


  12. Andrea T.H.W. Says :
    Posted on January 24, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Hi Marya, my goal for 2013 is to increase traffic which is already good but can definitely be better. It would be great to arrive at 1000 daily visit and some days I’m already at half of it but not consistently.

    The problem I have with this is finding other ways to get visits beside Google and its continuous updates only that given that I have little free time and I’m not into the social thing. If I’ve time I prefer to write on my blog.

    Probably I’ll have to create a free product like a video or a slide, something which can be easily shared on the net.

    That’s for 2013, and I wish you to get where you want too. 😉

    • marya
      Posted on January 30, 2013 at 3:04 am

      Hey Andrea, like a lot of other things, traffic is something one can’t get enough of. If I were you, I’d stop worrying so much about increasing daily visits and really concentrate on getting the best content out there. Food for thought?

      Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  13. Linda Kinsman Says :
    Posted on January 24, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Excellent post with several key points I will think about and re-visit as I work on branding this year.
    Thank you!

    • marya
      Posted on January 30, 2013 at 3:04 am

      Thanks Linda. Appreciate your kind words. 🙂

  14. Shawn Says :
    Posted on February 1, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Hi Marya,

    Thank you so much for this post, you have hit the nail right on the head with your observation. I am guilty of what you mention, hoping that my puny blog without a face to it would somehow become a some sort of an authority. That is wishful thinking at best. Putting a more personal touch to my posts is certainly something I should work towards this year. Thank you once again for the timely reminder!

  15. My Inner Chick Says :
    Posted on February 5, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Love your blog, Marya.

    You. Inspire! xx

    • marya
      Posted on February 6, 2013 at 12:12 am

      Many thanks. Appreciate your leaving a comment. 🙂

  16. Vivi Says :
    Posted on February 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    I’ve taken notes on your post, Marya, because I have been on hold with my blog & haven’t posted in weeks, mainly b/c I feel the need to focus my brand better. Your information is concise and sensible. Thanks! I look forward to reading your e-mails and other posts.

  17. Matt Brennan Says :
    Posted on February 10, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    You’re absolutely right, Mayra. The “experts” pretty much have their corner of the world nailed down. You can attract people to your corner of the world by providing a more personal glimpse. Don’t give us the same five tips that appeared on Copyblogger. Tell us about the one you love, or the one you hate. You win by standing out. Good post!

  18. Lisa Says :
    Posted on February 11, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    Hi Marya!

    Great article! It’s so important to let others in on who we are as people, not just teaching machines.

    Everything really does revolve around a person’s core message. I recently started my blog and it’s been very educational to date. I plan to weave in more of me and really appreciate your tips on how to do so!

    thanks again

  19. Shane Curtis
    Posted on February 13, 2013 at 12:55 am

    Hello Marya,

    Very interesting piece! I actually love the idea of starting fresh every year. Setting new goals and making new plans is something that people should consider.

  20. Why You Should Stop Writing Only for People who Scan Online | Writing Happiness Says :
    Posted on February 22, 2013 at 3:36 am

    […] Keep in mind, people move on for a number of reasons. They might feel they have gotten everything you have to say and simply find other blogs to follow. (This is especially true when you are writing purely educational content). […]

  21. sales jobs in bournemouth Says :
    Posted on October 7, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Fantastic blog! Do you have any helpful hints for aspiring writers?

    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost
    on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
    There are so many choices out there that I’m
    completely overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Bless you!

  22. How to Run a Business from Your Laptop (And What’s Blogging Got to Do with it?) | Writing Happiness Says :
    Posted on April 24, 2014 at 1:04 am

    […] brand awareness (voice, colours, logo, your message, content, offerings […]